Sunderland boy, 10, asked 'Am I going to die?' as he battled rare condition linked to coronavirus

A schoolboy asked his mum if he was going to die as he battled a rare condition linked to the coronavirus.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 5:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 5:53 pm

Doctors initially thought Charlie McPherson had appendicitis and removed his appendix at Sunderland Royal Hospital when he came down with excruciating stomach pains, uncontrollable high temperature and vomiting.

A routine swab before surgery found he had coronavirus and blood samples later showed he had the rare PIMS-TS condition, thought to be caused as a delayed reaction to COVID-19.

He and mum Claire Gowland, 34, step-dad Lee Gowland, 35, and sister Ivy, two, had started to self-isolate at home in Seaburn as he was discharged, but Claire’s “mother’s instinct” lead her to raise the alarm via NHS 111 when he continued to be unwell over the late May Bank Holiday weekend.

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Charlie McPherson battled with PIMS-TS in hospital (left). The ten-year-old Sunderland AFC home is now recovering at home as his mother warns other parents to look out for symptoms.

The 10-year-old, who attends Fullwell Junior School, was admitted to Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he was given Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy (IVIg) to help his immune system fight the syndrome and an oxygen to help him breathe.

Claire, who had to remain in the RVI room with her son for his entire stay to help prevent further spread of the virus, said she thought was going to lose her little boy at times.

She said: “I just had to watch Charlie struggle to breathe.

“It was horrendous and he was really upset, asking me ‘Am I going to die Mam?

Charlie McPherson, 10, as he was treated for PIMS-TS in the RVI.

“Of course I said he wasn’t, but I felt I was losing him.”

She added: “I think it was mother’s instinct, I just knew that something was just not right with Charlie and I just couldn’t bring his temperature down – if anybody has concerns, ring 111 and get advice straight away.”

Charlie is now back at home, but is still being monitored for a leaky heart valve caused by the illness.

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Charlie McPherson recorded a video urging people to stay at home to help battle the coronavirus so he could get back to watching Sunderland AFC before he fell unwell with a syndrome linked to COVID-19.

After a traumatic three weeks for his family, Claire, a cabin crew member for Tui, and Lee, an IT engineer, are hoping their story will help others spot the signs of the condition, which caused Charlie’s temperature to rise to 38.8C while his lips went blue and his body was cold and clammy to the touch.

A Facebook post by Claire setting out the warning signs has already been shared more than 55,000 times and the family are taking part in a medical study on the syndrome

Sunderland AFC fan Charlie had shared a TikTok video before he became unwell urging people to stay at home to help beat coronavirus so he could return to watch his beloved team and when he was in hospital Midfielder Luke O’Nien sent him a get well soon video which brought a smile to Charlie’s face.

Mum Claire said: “I’m a really positive person and when Charlie was really really ill, I just sat and thought about Charlie and me walking out of that hospital.

Claire Gowland's Facebook post about her family's experiences has been shared more than 55,000 times.

“He has got this problem with a leaky valve in his heart, but we have been lucky, really lucky.

“I have been overwhelmed with the support and we want to make people aware of this, because it is very rare but I don’t want to happen to any other child.”

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Charlie McPherson was given drugs to help his immune system fight PIMS-TS.

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